How Did Our Ancestors Enjoy Such Healthy Smiles?

Portland cosmetic dentist

At our South Waterfront dental office, Dr. Beck provides patients with the care needed to enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile that lasts a lifetime. Maintaining a healthy smile requires staying committed to brushing and flossing daily. Yet, research has found that our primal ancestors that lived hundreds of thousands of years ago enjoyed remarkably healthy smiles despite never flossing a single day in their lives.

Examining the dental remains of our ancestors, researchers have found very little evidence of the type of dental decay and disease that wreaks havoc on your smiles today. How could our ancestors enjoy such healthy smiles without the aid of toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss, water picks, and all of the other oral health tools we use today? It all comes down to diet.

Our primal ancestors had very different eating habits, and the foods they did consume caused far less damage to their oral health. Consider that our ancestors:

  • Didn’t eat junk foods, processed foods, or anything that contained chemical additives.
  • Diets consisted of a high percentage of animal protein and animal fat.
  • Ate a low to moderate amount of healthy carbohydrates.

In other words, our ancestors ate very healthy diets. At our South Waterfront dental office, Dr. Beck tells patients that the biggest threat to their oral health is sugar. The more sugar you consume, the higher your risk for tooth decay and gum disease. Our ancestors prove that the key to a healthy smile isn’t how often you brush but what you eat.

How Diet Impacts Your Oral Health

Science has backed up what the dental records of our ancestors have shown us about the role diet plays on oral health. In a Swiss study, 10 participants were asked not to brush or floss for 30 days. During this time, their diets consisted of primal foods available in their specific region of Switzerland over 5,000 years ago. Participants were unable to eat any processed foods, and they had to gather and forage most of what they ate.

At the start and end of the study, researchers measured the gum space between the teeth and the degree of bleeding. Bacteria cultures were taken from the dental plaque along the gum line and the tongue.

Following the experiment, the research team was surprised by the results. Participants experienced a significant decrease in gum bleed and exhibited significantly healthier gum space around the teeth. Amounts of dental plaque significantly increased, but pathogenic bacteria did not increase in dental plaque or on the tongue. Dental plaque and other oral microbes were in balance at the end of the study.

The research team concluded that a diet completely devoid of overprocessed foods reduces the signs and symptoms of gum disease.

In a second study published in the journal BMC Oral Health, researchers conducted a randomized clinical trial. Only patients who had signs of gum disease and were eating a diet heavily based on processed carbohydrates were selected for the study. The researchers enrolled 15 participants: 10 in the experiment group and five in a control group.

All participants were asked not to clean between their teeth with dental floss or other devices. The participants were not asked to change how they brushed.

The experiment group was asked to change their diet to one heavy in foods low in processed carbohydrates, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and full of vitamins C and D, fiber, and antioxidants. The control group was asked not to change their eating habits.

Signs of gum disease were recorded at the beginning and end of the study. After the study, all signs of gum disease had decreased significantly in the experimental group by about 50 percent. Comparatively, the control saw their signs of gum disease increase.

A Better Diet, A Healthier Smile

If you’re experiencing persistent issues with your oral health, look at the foods you eat. By visiting our South Waterfront dental office, Dr. Beck can provide you with tips on lowering the amount of sugar you consume daily and which types of foods you should add more of to your diet.

Don’t let sugar ruin your smile. Contact our office to schedule your next dental appointment with the team at South Waterfront Dental today!